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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, July 7, 2018 – The calendar and thermometer reads summertime but for the 2022 class of three-year-olds, the livin’ ain’t exactly easy. For this class, the Oaks and Derbies will continue.

Belmont Park will have a pair of Grade 1s on the Elmont lawn, races with international participation and the usual super connections staying in or shipping to Long Island in search of super bucks.

But Mid-America isn’t done with their big sophomore shows, either. In Iowa, specifically Prairie Meadows, and Indiana, at Horseshoe Indianapolis, there will be Derbies and Oaks galore.

The Big Apple will produce the Belmont Derby and Belmont Oaks. Both are invitationals and each are run at the classic American distance of a mile and a quarter.

A mile and a sixteenth will be the trip for the Iowa Derby and Oaks , just as it will be in Indiana. And while many of the six will feature strong favorites, these races are more open than they appear on paper.

And that’s the way, ah-ha, ah-ha, most players like it, and we will begin our parimutuel pursuits in the Hoosier state in a pair of Grade 3s.



The Skinny: Three of the eight have caught our eye as possible winners: Interstatedaydream (9-5), Candy Raid (4-1) and North County (5-1). The early line favorite is a Brad Cox trainee who was third to Nest in the G1 Ashland and won the G2 Black-Eyed Susan well enough. She’s 3-for-5 in life and will be a very tough out.

Candy Raid’s last on grass was for practice after he actually ran sneaky good in what was for her a troubled Kentucky Oaks. Keith Desormeaux is 27% going turf to dirt and the pole sitter switches to James Graham. Her odds might drift higher, depending on the love the Cox filly gets.

North County has won twice at today’s trip and last out suffered through a wide trip in the AW Bourbonette. She finished well while six wide in the lane behind Candy Raid who got first run and made the most of it.

*Late Edits: Uncoupled Patna (9-2) is not as fast as these but developing nicely for Cox; leading H.I. rider Martin Pedroza gets the call.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Interstatedaydream

THE VALUE BET: Candy Raid to win at 4-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta Box 1-5-6  *Exacta Box 1-3-5 *Trifecta Key: 5 first and second with 1-3-6.

G3 INDIANA DERBY                  

The Skinny: May be overthinking this but 5-2 favorite Rattle N Roll will be on my ticket as insurance only. Will Ken McPeek scratch the last week’s Stephen Foster undercard winner, and will the short rest flatten him out?

This one’s a scramble. First and maybe last question is what to do with one-eyed wonder, Un Ojo? First-time Diodoro is your call but Rebel winner would be attractive if early line of 6-1 holds. After that, there are three upwardly mobile developers.

*King Ottoman (5-1) is fast, forward-looking, and has excellent spacing and connections.

Best Actor (4-1) is 2-for-2 for Cox and was clearly best winning from a wide draw, racing wide throughout, including his turn move and, although diving hard, did manage a final quarter of 24.97 despite failing to change leads.

Actuator (7-2) only recently broke maiden but the first-time Michael McCarthy runner drew out to win by 7-1/4, running 7F in 1:21 3/5 with a final eighth in 12.44. He impressed favorably.


THE VALUE BET:  King Ottoman to win at 9-2 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta Box Superfecta Wheel 4-7-8-9 // // 1-4-6-7-8-9 // 1-4-6-7-8-9


G3 IOWA OAKS                  Race 7

The Skinny: Five of the eight fillies entered are in with a good chance. But as for the 5-2 early favorite, Candy Raid, will she even run here? If she were mine, I’d take the pole position at Hoosier and take my chances. But it’s up to Keith Desormeaux, not me.

Without her, the Todd Pletcher filly Falconet (7-2) will probably go favorite. She won around two turns at Keeneland and was a game, come-again, flat-mile winner at CD; Javier Castellano is in to ride.

What to do with Butterbean (5-1). She absolutely romped as a perfect trip prep winner over the surface but is a prime bounce candidate given her last-out Thoro-Graph. At 5-1 I might risk it. At 5-2, she’s not for me.

Nosilverspoonshere (6-1) is interesting. Claimed for $100K from her very fast winning 7F KEE debut, she appeared overconfidently handled at  odds-on in her first run around two turns at CD. She stayed very well but was unable to match strides with a perfect-trip, one-run winner but finished 5-1/4 ahead of the show filly.

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Falconet at 5-2 or more [assuming Candy Raid scratch]

THE VALUE BET: Nosilverspoonshere to win at 4-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta Box 3-4-8. Exacta Box 3-6-8. Trifecta Wheel 3 // 4-6-8 // 1-4-5-6-8. Trifecta Wheel 4-6-8 // 3 // 1-4-5-6-8

G3 IOWA DERBY                    Race 8

The Skinny: This probably would be a better spot for quick turnaround Rattle N Roll. He’s already a Grade 1 winner and trainer Ken McPeek is 8-for-17 shipping into PrM. Again, a defensive use for me. Major General (2-1) is reunited with Javier Castellano, who knows how to use this colt’s versatility. His placing to Tawny Port was probably more impressive as he was pressed hard every step pf the way.

Conagher (4-1) freaked twice recently sprinting for Mike Tomlinson and has bottom-side pedigree for the stretch-out.

Ain’t Life Grand (10-1) finished gamely for third after a very tough between-horses-while-wide-throughout journey.

Fast-working Actuator (8-1), yet another cross-entered at Horseshoe, showed much improvement first-time McCarthy, as noted earlier.


THE VALUE BET: Conagher to win at 3-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta and Trifecta Key 3 first and second with, extra ticket with 3 on top.



The Skinny:  This 10 furlong test features British turf royalty vs. American turf royalty—Charlie Appleby and Aidan O’Brien matched up against two Chad Brown entrants.

Were Agartha (10-1) to upset the proceedings, it wouldn’t be the first time that Joseph O’Brien would upstage papa Aidan, who has the most accomplished runner in the field, Group 1-placed Concert Hall (3-1), exiting three straight Group 1s, beaten a mere 4-1/2 lengths two back in the Epsom Oaks.

All five fillies will be suited to the mile and-a-quarter. In the G3 Regret, McKulick (6-1) was pace compromised but came with a strong rally too late but never threatened the winner who had slipped away. The Frankel filly galloped out strongly.

Stablemate Haughty (5-1) is the more accomplished of the pair, finishing third from post 11 in the BC Juvenile Turf last fall, coming with a strong, wide too-late kick. In her 3-year-old debut, she took the Penn Oaks with authority but likely was aided by the bottomless ground.

Godolphin filly With The Moonlight (6-1) appears the type that will be suited by the harder ground. She took the listed Pretty Polly with style in her but found the going probably a little soft for her speedy gait and 12 furlongs beyond her scope at this point of her career.

A big, scopey girl, she will appreciate the footing and Frankie Dettori, having amicably split with John Gosden, has extra incentive to  impress Appleby. Expect Frankie to play this off the break.


WIN VALUE BET: With The Moonlight to win at 9-2 or greater.

*EXOTICA: Exacta Box 3-4-10. Exacta Wheel 4-10 with 1-3-4-9-10. Trifecta and Superfecta Key 4 first and second with 1-3-9-10

*Revised exacta box 12:16 pm on 070922


The Skinny: Well, if I were contemplating a horizontal wager, I would need to include seven of the 13 entrants. The good news is that half of those are double-digits on the early line. Our top contenders are a mix of Americans and Europeans

Of the locals, Stolen Base (10-1) has developed nicely this season, is drawn inside with Saez; can trip out for a slice. Sy Dog (10-1) rates to benefit from his most recent, a too late rally for third. Tiz the Bomb (6-1) has kept classic company now returns to his optimal surface.

But the Euros are the most likely of the group. Stone Age (9-2) has excellent tactical speed and can finish for Team O’Brien/Moore.

Royal Patronage (12-1) was an excellent second in the G2 Dante behind eventual and impressive Gr. 1 Epsom Derby winner Desert Crown; Joel will know what to do with his late kick. Machete (20-1) will appreciate the firmer ground—and getting away from a killer, Vadeni, the recent Gr 1 French Jockey Club hero.


THE VALUE BET: Royal Patronage to win at 10-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta Box 6-8-13. Exacta Box 8-13. Superfecta Wheel: 6-8-13 // 6-8-13 // 2-6-7-8-9-13 // 2-6-7-8-9-13.

Note that many Indiana and Iowa horses have been cross-entered at both venues; obviously race dynamics could change dramatically on raceday. Per usual, multiple pools at minimums available; straight wagers are in $2 units or ratios thereof

this is a live column and will be updated periodically through Saturday

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35 Responses

  1. Who would a thunk it? Mr. Pricci has found Horseshoe Indianapolis and Prairie Meadows; two off the radar racing sites that are rarely mentioned at HRI. I bet GPS was used. Thought for a minute that, perhaps, Pletcher had briefly been forgotten. Wrong, as the golden boy here at HRI has blue bloods entered at Prairie Meadows. And, naturally, Asmussen has blue bloods entered at both racetracks in several races – just can’t get away from these two guys.

  2. There is no getting away from any of today’s super trainers, anywhere in the country.
    No GPS needed, WMC, Iowa and Indiana are in the national racing spotlight today.
    I didn’t find them, they found me.
    Not to worry, though, we’re working our way east to New York.

  3. …. and then there is also no way of avoiding today’s super curmudgeons as well John Boy.

    Two more beers over here Eddie. And a good Champaign for the lady with the camera as well. The AKA Photos By Toni Lady. One for me, and one for what’s his name, the Italian guy down the end of the bar. Head burried in The Morning Telegraph. Preacher, Pricci, whatever. The who’s guy always touting out the endless run of favorites from the 8 to 5 chalk’ers in the afternoon’s big stakes races.

    The guy has the patience of a Saint Dennis I tell you. Bless him racing fans. I can’t remember none of what they said I bet yesterday, but I did learn about “the sins of ommission” at HRI. The man teaches quite well how to bookend a favorite if one only listens. “Bet a little to win a lot” works for me, and I have indeed cashed more than a few times based on John Pricci’s verse. Riders Up is all.

    1. That line about blind squirrels finding acorns? It’s true, every once in a while.

      Bless you my son…

  4. I’ll take the centrist type of position and go where I can find the best value wager. Royal Pricci Patronage in the Belmont Turf followed up with a Stone Age Exacta Box works out fine.

    Just where are those two beers Eddie? I got a lot more racing lines to read, and very little time remaining to make a run for the wife’s purse. Hope to pinch a “Twenty” or Two. Sure wish she would raise my pocket money however. This Inflation Crap is killing me. I can’t even get in the track for two bucks anymore. Maybe at Prarie Downs, but simply not enough at UBS Belmont.

  5. Belmont Derby Invitational
    50 to SHOW on STOLEN BASE

    Impressive in victory after clipping heels around the first turn in the American Turf Stakes at Churchill. 1 1st, 2 2nd, 1 3rd in 5 lifetime turf starts.

    Maker 9 1st, 10 2nd, 14 3rd in 62 turf starts at the current Belmont meet.

    1. Nice piece of research Dan, thanks for sharing with the HRI Faithful. I hope it is appreciated–I know I do…

      1. I couldn’t pick a last place finisher if I tried.

        Stolen Base proves that I do not need to try.

        1. First, he was completely flat, it happens, his last was not easily won, but it may not have mattered. Yesterday’s course was firm to hard, favoring speed in most grass events…

          Turn the page. PPs for the Spa Thursday and Friday are available now!

  6. To think that this game all started with palming quarters when the church basket went past. Sister Mary was always watching out for us for fooling around and talking in church, but never caught on to the serious side of the real action of the day. “Palming Quarters at collection time.” If I ever see an entry named “Palming Quarters”, you just know I’ll be pinching more than a couple of twenties from the purse. Anyhoot, you gotta always take your shot when everybody is sleepin’ mind ya. Best to feed the NYRA.BETS basket when its quiet and everyone else is sleeping in. Around 07:20 AM is always a good time. We always gotta feed the account if we’re going to play. “I pick things up, I put things down.” Just like the guy from Planet Fitness. Not to worry. I always place the two twenty bills back in the purse after Pricci brings us around the back to the cashier’s windows at the end of the day, lol. Pricci ain’t no crook. I ain’t no crook either. Suspect there were a few at Loughlin Palming Quarters back in the early days as well. Palming Quarters, Cutting Class and off to the Big A. Riders Up. Safe journey to all.

    In the 8th at Sandy, I’m 50 cent boxing Smash Ticket, the Birdie Horse, a my namesake Happy Soul. In Race 10 Tom Morley’s Brady’s Legacy. Tom is A OK with difficult runners. Just might be Brady’s wake up day. Intothe gate we go…Hail Mary full of grace. In Race 11, the two Italian runners, Riders Up on Umbria and Bianco. Keep in mind, all of this added commentary is from the unsolicited bleacher seats. I don’t really know much about nothing. It wasn’t me Officer. Pricci is the guy that put me up to all of this crap. If it wasn’t for him, I never would have even gone near the damn purse.

    1. Hope you got some part of the double-sawbucks, I did, lost only about 40% of my action and lucky to have done that. All around a lot of things but in the overall, this handicapper wound up with a lot of stank on ’em.
      Just recounted: Lost half of Saturday’s bankroll.
      Come Thursday, will start out even again.

      1. What I lost on Saturday I got back on a straight Win bet (single ten spot ticket) on Sunday on Race 7 Queen Burboun. When I wagered, I thought the turf runner might go off higher, but somebody new something. He finished like the closing act I saw and listened to at Bethel Woods on Friday night. He ran like a “Fast Train” at the finishes was all. Followed the Curmudgeon’s lead, and wagered Win only mind you. Worked out Ok. Didn’t even get greedy and go for three winners. Took the two twenties with gratitude, and stashed “her cash” back in the boss lady’s purse. Possession is always about just who might be holding the cash at any given point in time mind you. Just like with Any Given Saturday the race horse, I only need the cash to wager when Pricci prints out his short Gospel missives for Saturday’s cards.

        A few days off for now. Time to water the garden in hope of a good year with the peppers and tomatoes.

  7. Today it felt like being on the Thruway,getting closer to the Saratoga-Lake George area where i spent three summers.With some out of town,and country,horses and connections,different distances and many unanswerable questions about distance,experience, PP numbers and turf, it was like being reintroduced to Saratoga,that expensive,joyous,honeymoon.One of the few things missing was,i don’t know,about some more 20,000 betting fans in such a humid,hot day !? Sterling,again called out I Ortiz for his careless riding while getting close and passing Dylan Davis for the riding title while Davis himself must feel the pressure that Ortiz does not feel,or care,since he keeps on getting better mounts with his connections of Brown-Czaravich at his disposal.Rosario remains the legit ROI guy,at any distance,in my humble sentiments,without trying to bully his way to victories. Ms Maggie gave an exaggerated compliment to Leparoux calling him something like one of the best Turf riders in the USA,after he rode to victory.Heard the same from Samyn to Fell to Leccano and thru the yrs and even Castellano,JV got those compliments.How does one measure those opinions ?Not just after a victory ! Saw Richards and Huske riding in the same race,at Belmont !Wow,that would not happen upstate,would it ?Never bet on the last day,so I’m done with Belmont. Saratoga is tougher,for many unknowns since most horses run a couple of times while coming in from many states and the jockey colony gets more competitive while Still missing a Julie Krone or Rosie Napravnich. Don’t tell me that i belong to a minority on that feeling..Memories…The way we thought we were..

  8. This was good stuff, JG.
    First, I miss Julie and Rosie, too. It would be nice if Hollie Doyle shipped over from Europe for a spell. From what I had seen thus far, she’s smart and has excellent skills. But yesterday–forgot the name it was only a three horse field–she made all the pace, difficult over there, and in the lane finished as strongly as any top rider, She was extraordinary yesterday.
    Most of the talent are over the top in the way compliments, everyone does “a great job.” But her point is correct. I’m joking when I say I thought I was the only one who knew how effective Julien was aboard turf-speed types. Underrated. Think Andy followed up with how much he is a whipping boy on social media unfairly and that he doesn’t deserve it. Agreed.
    The problem with American horseplayers is they love and want their jockeys to be aggressive. I do too. Where they fail, in my opinion, is their lack of nuance. Everyone believes they know how to watch races/replays. In many cases, those players are too high on themselves. Patience is virtuous on racetracks, too. See Irad and Joel.
    Speaking of the former, the HRI Faithful know I’ve been on Irad’s case since last year’s Remsen, the worst non-DQ in my memory. And again I agree with Serling here. Irad is a great rider but he steps over the line too often and he doesn’t need to do that! Especially with the talented mounts he gets.
    When I was younger, I remember the old schoolers talking about how rough Ycaza and Arcaro were. In that mold, Irad and Paco are the same today. The stewards need to do a better job at keeping riders in line. It’s fair for players and, of greater import, safer for riders and their horses.

  9. High on themselves. Awesome the way you capture with a simple verse. Who’d you like? Give me two bucks on Humility in the third. As for Manny in the younger days, I knew he was reckless and always a chance he was coming down, but for my two bucks in at the time I knew I was getting a ride. My favorite I miss him was Johnny Rotz by the way. As for my favorite miss him line, that would be the old lady burying her husband in his old Mercedez. Tissue in hand, her lament at the burial was simply “God only knows how much I’m going to miss that car.”

    1. That’s pretty funny. I actually got to know John Rotz when he was a steward at NYRA tracks. The nickname ‘Gentleman John” was well deserved, IMO

      1. Even when he “looked beaten”, Johnny Rotz to me always looked like he could extend his runners neck a few inches for the win at the wire. Always to perfection, the timing just at the wire. Johnny Ruane was best for getting a horse out first, and always seemed to get home first in a sprint, and Johnny Rotz always recalled for nailing the field at the wire in a route. At least it always felt that way in the bleacher seats.

        Remember when you had to save your seat with the unused part of the folded Tele if you wanted to save your seat back. What a time we grew up in. No one would move your reservation either. You could also make a free subway pass out of the grey cardboard from the shirt packaging when shirts were cycled back from the cleaners. Student pass for the subway. No one ever looked closely. You could even upgrade to the club house seats at the track for free once you got there. Jumped on the Press Elevator to the basement. I used to tell ’em I was going to visit Pricci down in the basement outside the NYTHA office across from the jockey room, and simply come back up the clubhouse side staircase. Once you got the hand stamped, you were pretty much good to go anywhere all day.

        The old days when things were simple. Always left a subway (tip) when you got the form and pencil at the stand at entry. And the ride in on the bus from the back lot was like a bottle of Heinze Ketchup. Filled with anticipation. Who do you like in the first?

  10. Slightly off-topic, John. Will you be traveling to Saratoga this Summer ??? Hopefully, your good health and schedule will allow for a trip to The Old Spa. Hey, when is the Spa really ever off-topic ??? Adult cocktails will be served after the card (and not from The Big Red Spring, as we’ve discussed earlier). Cheers to all in the HRI Community – well in advance of Thursday’s 1:00p Eastern time first post in Saratoga Springs, NY !!! I’ll be there for TH, FR & SA of opening week, looking for nice winners at nice prices.

  11. Good for you Richard. Have safe travels and good prices this weekend!

    God willing I will be in Saratoga, from mid-Whitney week until Tuesday after Travers.

    1. It would be nice to see the Coupled Entry (1 and 1A) of Toni & John Pricci arriving at the Union Avenue gate in plenty of time before the first race on Whitney Day or any other racing day in August !!!

  12. A picture of John playing “spinners” at the turnstiles when entering the Spa would be a nice post Toni. A few extra comp t-shirts for photos by T would be much appreciated.
    Broadway might lose be a shirt every now and then but never Tony. My $$$$ is on the lady with the camera.

    Come home with a few IRS pictures as well as the shirts.😎

  13. Gentlemen, I did say God willing…

    I can’t count my chickens just yet. Have a down payment on a place, but the reality is that for me, at this point in time, a lot can happen in three weeks. There are several things going on that may or may not need addressing.

    But for now I need to get back to my opening day work. Whatever might be, there will be coverage, and there will be action! Lots…

  14. Mythical Saratoga. Wonder if the so called mythical bankroll competition is still going on since I remember it as i was usually going thru Newsday, Daily News ,Albany Union picks,

    charting and adding them to my fresh choices .11:30 am was never the time to absorbe what this and that expert would pick.Just writing them was not enough.They had to be mention between races ,after all their picks were usually made a day or more in advance.Some part timers made,and still make them days ahead ! By hearing the next race selections bettors have the time,interest to follow up besides the fact that selectors,or. talent,as TVG called them fort a while,can always change 5heir minds,as most of us do by adding or subtracting a pick or two. Also,not every bet has the same value and by listening to why such and such horse is being bet more,or less,it gives extra weight to the selection.Who,seriously bets the same amount of $ on every bet( excepting old timers with their 10 cents superfecta! )?How often,if legitimate numbers are being kept,have experts come on top at the end of the season ?How many had gone kaput,bankrupt ? Seriously,though, is that time slot for handicappers,some of whom have shown up with too many adult libations for breakfast, being followed besides the participants own ego trip to be on the small screen,trying to look witty and smooth ? Don’t know,i was too busy absorbing my chart x the day. One thing that i like about Saratoga charting is that the ML favorite does not win as much but it may not the the post time choice since ,more than ever,$$ dictates and thus changing the subjective original bet and morning consensus. The first week ,usually frantic,unexpected,except,maybe for the steeplechase favorites which i continually compare it to the WNBA being supported by NBA money and interest. It just does not do it for me ,especially since the demise of the Augustin Stable which was a few miles from my main residence.Enjoy the show,glamor,aura,,,,and maybe try to come out even,after expenses …after all,as usual,,money mgmt is more difficult than picking a winner.🤔😁” May the Horses be with you” at the window.

    1. PS: Jonathan Sheppard retired last year at 80 after training for some 56 yrs. To me,it was the end of me following steeplechase with any interest.For those who do not know his name,better check his stats. Winning horse trainer with both flat racing and routing steeplechase. Enjoy your well earned rest,dear chap ,Sir !😇 As for the present Strawbridge connections,i ,admittedly,know nothing.

      1. Mr Sheppard owns one of those Woody records that will be very hard to top, but if today’s young super trainers are blessed with longevity, they could do it. But would love to see them win a jump stakes, now that would be impressive…

    2. Being a public handicapper is a hard way to make an easy living. I was able to have my share of profitable “meets” but they could be counted on one hand after 17 years at Newsday.

      However, I must add that the number would have been a good deal higher if it were not for takeout. Remember, every dollar put through the window bet straight, on average, is worth around 82 cents. Takeout is immutable, extremely tough to overcome.

      1. Same with paychecks and pretty much any income John. We pay when we earn it and pay again when when spend it. Pretty much a Cat and Mouse Partnership with all of us. Just keep on the move and never let the damn Cat steal all of the fat. That Bastard Cat is always lookin’ for more. And now he’s even got the courts on his side as well. Gift it away I say before feeding the damn Cat anymore than you must. One thing that makes things a little more difficult for the Cat is a Roth. Takes ten more years for it to steal it all back. Leave the Roth to the grand kids, and maybe it will last even a bit longer at a lower tax rate. Just like with the track, even up the Northway, that Bastard Cat is everywhere man, and always has his paws grabbing at your wallet.

  15. Hmmn! Did I just read ‘the number would have been a good deal higher if it were not for takeout’. Every weekend I read the ‘skinny’ on a logical choice, followed by multiple exotic bets resulting in bets that are automatic losers (as only one bet can win, Alice) plus bets themselves that have high odds of winning; thus, takeout is really a minor consideration when the bettor, himself, is the reason that the red ink flows constantly.

  16. Agree with you on that. It is more meaningful to those who bet the favs,odds ons for win and esp. place or show. Most of us knew such greedy people who,once they lost 2 or 3 bets out of 10 , they would lose for the day. If the winner pays at odds of 3/1 or more it becomes an innocuous take out because that % is smaller when compared to the odds on favs.Same for the winning exacta. Looking back,i doubt that 15% would have tipped the scale one way,most of the time….Maybe in harness,but that’s another story and world of the past..

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